THE WIDELY applauded tenure of Inspector General Amy Kurland has sparked many calls for her office to be cemented in the city’s Home Rule Charter, rather than maintained through executive order as it is now.
Determining the jurisdiction of a permanent inspector, however, has proved to be a trickier affair.
Councilman Jim Kenney has introduced a resolution that, if voters approve a ballot measure this spring, would create an independent office charged with investigating the city’s executive branch and companies that do business with the city – but not City Council, the City Commission, the City Controller’s Office and other key parts of government.
Kenney said he wanted those offices under the I.G.’s jurisdiction but was told by Mayor Nutter’s administration to leave them out. The reason: To ensure Council members did not defeat the bill, as they did with a similar measure in 2008, because it would lead to another set of eyes looking over their shoulders.
“This is a Council member who wanted Council in it, and the I.G. and the administration believed that there would be better chance of passing it by leaving them out,” Kenney said.
The Daily News attempted to survey all 17 Council members about the bill this week. A majority did not respond to the request or said they needed to look more closely at the issue before taking positions.
Councilman Dennis O’Brien, however, “emphatically supports” letting the I.G. investigate Council, according to a spokesman. And Councilwoman Cindy Bass said she wouldn’t have a problem with it.
Councilman Bill Green said he supports the Kenney bill as written, but “at this moment” does not support expanding its jurisdiction, a spokesman said. Councilwoman Maria Quinones-Sanchez questioned whether an additional oversight body was needed for Council.
“We always want transparency and always have the highest standard, but we have a Board of Ethics, an inspector general and whoever Joan Markman is in the city,” she said, referring to the mayor’s chief integrity officer. “There is such a thing as too many hands in the pot.”
The I.G.’s office was established under Mayor W. Wilson Goode, but its prominence has risen and fallen over the years.
Nutter is credited with strengthening the office by choosing Kurland, a former prosecutor.
“I’m appointed by the mayor, and while Mayor Nutter has provided a strong base of support, another mayor could eliminate the office with a stroke of the pen,” said Kurland, who noted that she supports Kenney’s bill because she wants to ensure that some form of the legislation passes.
As of last year’s end, I.G. investigations under Kurland had led to 166 city workers’ losing their jobs, 44 arrests or indictments and $34.9 million in savings or recoveries, she said. Her office recently won the national Public Integrity Award from the American Society for Public Administration.
Please read the comments and the original article on the philly.com website.